The Mischief-Maker by Julia Lacey-Brooke

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Excitement at Tiger HQ

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A Sad Day for the World of Books

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Enemies of Books - Another Screenshot

Screenshot from Kindle for Mac showing drop cap and embedded font.

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The Book That Never Was

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Enemies of Books on Kindle

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ePub Hell Revisited

here

Our first book on the iBookstore, Plurality of Worlds, is finally out and I have to admit it was less of a slog than I'd anticipated. However, I suspect that the next book, Enemies of Books, will be much better. I've learned from producing the first one. Also, the second one is in ePub 3 format. Both books are designed to be read on iPhones and iPod Touches as well as iPads. Producing books using iBooks Author would be easier but would restrict sales to people with iPads.


In the UK, Plurality of Worlds is available here. In the US, it is available here.

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ePub Hell

Here at Schloss Danckwerts, the spiritual (and, indeed, commercial) home of the vast and sprawling Tiger of the Stripe publishing empire, we are hard at work trying to cash in on ebooks, not least because sales of our printed books have fallen off the metaphorical cliff. But what a palaver it is!

I published some PDF ebooks some years ago but the profits were virtually non-existent - in fact they were non-existent as the few pounds profit was paid by a cheque in Australian dollars which would have cost me more to pay in than it was worth. My next plan was to sell PDF books from my own site but I concluded that it was open to pirating and unlikely to be profitable. Than Kindle and Apple iBooks came along. 

Although I have a lot of new ebooks in the pipeline, I've only published one (a Kindle version of Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds) so far because creating either mobi or ePub files from my existing resources (InDesign files) is by no means straightforward. 

The biggest problem is that my books are full of footnotes and/or endnotes. Endnotes are not supported directly by InDesign so I use InFnote but that doesn't create hyperlinks in the ePubs or mobi files so this has to be done by hand. In any case, pop-up footnotes are much more suitable and they are a further complication.

The second major problem is the integration of illustrations. This is relatively easy with fixed-layout ePubs (with Rorohiko's superb ePubCrawler plu-in) but should I really be creating them? They are a nightmare on small devices such as iPhones.

Ah well! It is time to go and feed the vultures who circle around the castle turrets. If I come back alive, I'll return to this topic another time.

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Make Amazon pay UK Corporation Tax?

I have just received an invitation to sign an online petition demanding that Amazon pay UK Corporation Tax. 

I have every sympathy with bookshops trying to compete against Amazon and I would dearly like to see the survival (and, indeed, revival) of independent booksellers in the UK. However, I believe that the petition is fundamentally wrong. All companies have an obligation to their shareholders to maximise their profits which means also taking all legal steps to minimise their tax bills. 

The present unfortunate situation with regard to many international companies is the result of massive incompetence by our government and the EU over many years. If our government wants international companies to pay a reasonable amount of UK Corporation Tax, it should reduce the tax rate, as Ireland did, to make it more attractive to pay tax in the UK than elsewhere. This would benefit all companies in the UK and encourage inward investment, whereas populist calls for Amazon and others to pay more tax without any legal basis will discourage inward investment. Alternatively, it should press for international agreement on a better way of assessing tax in relation to economic activity, although I suspect that this is never really going to work.

The other problem with Amazon, Google and eBay is that the competition authorities have sat on their hands while they built international monopolies. As far as I can see, this is almost impossible to undo.

As a small publisher, I have mixed feelings about Amazon and about bookshops. If you sell books through the Amazon Advantage programme, you are obliged to give Amazon 60% discount. Outrageous though this is (especially when you remember that the publisher has to pay royalties, typesetting, editing, production, delivery and other costs), it is often more attractive than trying to sell through bookshops which often expect equally high discounts and sometimes take years (quite literally) to pay you, although there are many honourable exceptions.

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Do We Need Legislation to Regulate the Press?

I have every sympathy with victims of newspaper snooping but do we, as Lord Justice Leveson, J. K. Rowling and others argue, need new legislation to prevent it?

I don't think so. The methods used by the press to which Ms Rowling and others object are largely illegal anyway. Intercepting telephone message, bribing policemen and accessing medical records, to mention just three of the nefarious activities of the Grub Street can and should be punished under existing laws. It is not the laws which are at fault but the exercise of them which has been deficient, largely, one suspects, because too many police officers had their hands in the till. It is essential that all the culprits should be pursued relentlessly.

Any new legislation which handed greater power over the press to politicians or lawyers should worry anyone who is concerned for free flow of information and greater transparency. I don't often agree with David Cameron but in this case I think he is right and his critics are wrong.

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Tim Ferriss: The 4-Hour Chef

I'll be very interested to see what happens to the new book from Tim Ferriss. Mr Ferriss says that the book has been banned by 700 bookshops (or 1000 according to an email I received) due to the opposition of a booktrade cabal opposed to his publisher, Amazon Publishing. He says that his marketing campaign for the book is 'a sniper shot directed at the heart of every member of the publishing oligarchy'. The irony for me is that he is relying on Amazon's near-monopoly of online bookselling to do so, just as I do.

I have no idea what The 4-Hour Chef is like but I intend to find out. It is published on 20 November and is available for pre-order in both <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0547884591/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0547884591&linkCode=as2&tag=tigerofthestr-20">Amazon US</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=tigerofthestr-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0547884591" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /> and <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1477800077/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=1477800077&linkCode=as2&tag=tigerukwebsit-21">Amazon UK</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.co.uk/e/ir?t=tigerukwebsit-21&l=as2&o=2&a=1477800077" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />. It is also available in <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005NJU8PA/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B005NJU8PA&linkCode=as2&tag=tigerofthestr-20">Kindle Format</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=tigerofthestr-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B005NJU8PA" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />. I have no doubt that it will be extremely entertaining and thought-provoking. Mr Ferriss has a very remarkable mind. I particularly like his approach to learning languages.

I should mention that if you buy from Amazon using these links I'll receive a small payment.

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Caravan Cooking by Faith Hancock

This book is going very well and I'm looking forward to publishing it. The cover picture supplied by Faith is remarkably effective.

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More on Formatting InDesign Indexes

After toying with grep styles to format parts on index entries, I decided that it was unsatisfactory. I had delimited italic with double quotes and Greek (which had to be set in a different font because my main font didn't support Greek) with curly brackets. Unfortunately, the text variable used to put the head words into the index running head displayed the delimiters and there was no way to remove them. 

Fortunately, InDesign allows one to save searches so I simply saved 4 search-and replace operations which need re-running every time that the index is revised: one each to search and style Greek and italic and one each to delete the double quotes and curly brackets.

I'll probably write a short Applescript to automate this but, even without that, it is a very simple operation.

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Life on the Edge

Two very enthusiastic reviews on Amazon of Peter Vare's book on my uncle:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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InDesign Indexes

I love InDesign, even though it sometimes infuriates me. Its built-in indexing is excellent, except that there is no proper way to style parts of an entry. For instance, to italicise book titles.

There are two work-arounds. One is to do a GREP search-and-replace once the index is generated. For instance, one can delimit the italic words with double quotes, than search for text surrounded by double quotes, italicise it and then delete the quotes. The other is to create a GREP style. The former works well (at least if your grasp of GREP patterns is at lot better than mine) but you have to perform these after every regeneration of the index (and, in my experience, that's quite often).

The idea of GREP styles is very clever. You define a character style, say italic, which inherits all the characteristics of the paragraph to which it belongs except that it is italic. You then go to the relevant paragraph styles, such as level 1, level 2 and level 3 index entries and define in the GREP styles tab the circumstances in which the character style is applied.

The picture shows a simple pattern searching for any text contained within any type of double quotes and then applying an italic character style. However, that doesn't get rid of the double quotes so you then have to apply a style to them, in this case a style which makes them very narrow and of no colour.

In other words, the GREP style doesn't get rid of the double quotes at all, it just hides them. This is unsatisfactory for two reasons. First, imagine you, like I, want to include headwords in the running head. This is easy with InDesign's text variables. You can set up a text variable to display the first word of the first level 1 heading on the page and another to display the first word of the last level 1 heading on the page. Great! But if you marked your italics with double quotes they're still there. Moreover, InDesign doesn't allow you to do GREP searches on text variable, so you can't hide those double quotes again, so there they are in the running head.

The second, possibly more serious, problem with this scenario is that you'll probably want to create other forms of this publication, such as Kindle and ePub. All those double quotes will reappear again!

There is only one sensible solution to this, I think: Adobe should support some sort of tagging in the index.

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